Chapter 12

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Raynham Manor, Norfolk

He couldn't stop kissing her. He didn't want to stop kissing her.

Someone knocked on the door. Melissa pulled back suddenly, her cheeks delightfully pink.

"What is it?" George Townshend asked, annoyed at the interruption. He'd been having a most agreeable time.

"Master Jacob has arrived, my lord," Freddie intoned.

"Ask him to bugger off," he replied jovially.

"George!" Melissa slapped his wrist.

"Oh alright. Send him in."

Jacob entered the room looking extremely confused. But his confusion only grew when he saw Olivia's Aunt seated in a chair by his uncle's bed.

Her hand in his.

He bowed, feeling at sea. What the hell was happening? Hadn't this very lady been preaching the various rules and etiquettes not a fortnight ago? Surely this couldn't be considered proper?

After his initial shocked had faded, he turned to look at his uncle-who almost looked the way he had when Jacob had left seven years ago.

"You look better, uncle."

"I feel better, my boy," he smiled, looking at Lady Melissa with an expression that made Jacob nauseous.

"It's quite a er...surprise to see you here, my lady," he turned to the lady in question.

She waved him off. "How is my niece?" she surprised him by asking. "I hope you've kept away from her."

Jacob couldn't very well tell her that he'd nearly made love to her in Lady Bell's library in her house party.

So instead, "She is well," he said curtly, deliberately skipping the second part of her question.

She noticed of course and began to say something, but Uncle-dear sweet Uncle George interrupted. "He's a good lad, sweetheart. Don't let the beard and brooding stare fool you."

Lady Melissa's face immediately softened and she turned to gaze at his uncle lovingly.

Good god.

"Where is your nurse?" Jacob asked, wanting to divert the topic of conversation.

"I threw her out," Lady Melissa said disdainfully.

"But why?"

"Because she had been poisoning your uncle."

"What?"

Uncle George nodded. "When Melissa asked her to eat the food she brought me, she balked, she did. It wasn't a cancer, after all," he said.

"How did you know?" He turned to look at Lady Melissa suspiciously. He'd suspected as much, but still, he was curious.

"There were blue splotches beneath his eyes. I've seen it before," she shrugged lightly, but Jacob saw the tightening of her mouth.

"The physician?"

"He was with the nurse."

He nodded, appeased for now. He didn't have to ask on whose order the nurse and physician had acted.

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